There are many risks and benefits of using genetic engineering, some of which are outlined below.
Benefits of Genetic Engineering:
- A much faster and more efficient method of producing organisms with desired characteristics compared to selective breeding.
- Pest and insect resistance can be developed in plants. The plants produce toxins which deter insects. This can also reduce the spread of disease.
- Increasing crop yields and the quality of crops, which can help to reduce world hunger.
- Herbicides are harmful to the environment. Introducing herbicide resistance reduces the amount of herbicides farmers use. It also increases crop yields as there is greater weed control.
- Crops can be genetically modified so that they can grow in harsher environments.
- Genetically modified insects could be used to combat diseases like malaria and the Zika virus. This can involve introducing genes that prevent future generations from surviving adulthood or genes that promote infertility.
Risks of Genetic Engineering:
- Large companies that produce GM seeds can charge more, which makes them less affordable for smaller farms and farmers in developing countries.
- Genetic engineering raises ethical concerns, as many people believe it disrupts the natural progress of life on Earth.
- If the genes are transferred to wild crops by pollination, they may become herbicide resistant.
- We may become too dependent on GM crops, which may give too much power to companies that produce them. This power can be abused if these companies are not regulated.